Jason Borgen, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Santa Cruz Office of Education, faced a heartbreaking challenge in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced students to switch to homeschooling, and many of them lacked adequate home internet connectivity. Students couldn’t do their schoolwork.
“Our primary objective is to provide unwavering support to all students and families, ensuring they have the necessary resources and tools to achieve success, particularly those in our community who are underserved,” Jason emphasized.
Having partnered with Cruzio on many projects over the years, Jason’s initial action was to reach out to us. Together, we embarked on a mission to install affordable internet connections for these students. When it became apparent that the problem was even more widespread than initially thought, Susan True of the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County stepped in, playing a pivotal role in establishing a charitable fund, thus giving birth to Equal Access Santa Cruz (EASC).
EASC allows local community members to support less fortunate neighbors with fast, reliable internet — a service that’s become vital for so many reasons. Cruzio members can even add a few dollars to their monthly bill for EASC. In all the fund has raised over $1,000,000, all of which is put to work building new internet connections to homes in places where construction couldn’t be justified by market economics.
Since its inception, EASC has achieved remarkable success. Some of our achievements include:
- Establishing over 35 broadband distribution hubs (Points of Presence or PoPs), each capable of serving up to 200 households.
- Executing various special projects to assist community members in need, such as Buena Vista migrant housing, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Farm Discovery Center, and Housing Matters’ Casa Azul.
- Connecting over 1,200 students and families to new internet access.
- Creating infrastructure that has the potential to serve an additional 5,000+ individuals.
- Enhancing broadband availability in over 60% of the Watsonville/Pajaro area.
- Cultivating new partnerships with several school districts, Housing Matters, Housing Authority of Santa Cruz, and other like-minded organizations.
The partnership with Equal Access has been one of the most gratifying things the Cruzio team have ever undertaken. It embodies our core values and mission as well as the Santa Cruz community’s dedication to making a positive impact.
Jason encapsulates our collective mission when he says, “we focus on equity and are doing everything we can to remove the digital divide from Santa Cruz County. We are thankful for the work Cruzio is doing and has done to make this a reality. With Santa Cruz COE’s and Cruzio’s shared vision towards this work we can truly make a difference for all of Santa Cruz county!”
If you want to help support our mission and help make sure no one in Santa Cruz County is unconnected, please donate to the Equal Access fund.